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Bringing gender balance into the workplace

Diverse teams are more productive, more innovative and more engaged. They also improve company culture and boost financial performance. According to LinkedIn, 78 percent of talent professionals see diversity as a top hiring priority and gender diversity in particular is a number one issue.

The latest Women in the Workplace report shows some positive progress in this area as female representation is on the rise, however only one in five executives in the C-suite is a woman today and they remain underrepresented at all levels.

The broken rug

Over the last years, there has been an increasing number of companies that see value in having more female leaders on their boards, proving that they can make progress on gender diversity. Whilst there is often talk about women breaking the “glass ceiling”, there is sometimes the bigger obstacle women face earlier in their career – their step up to a management position. This early inequality, sometimes referred to as the “broken rug”, can have a long-term impact on the talent pipeline.

On average, there are more men at a manager level, which means that there are less women to hire or promote to senior manager positions. The number of women decreases at every subsequent level and even as hiring and promotion rates improve, on the whole, women can’t really catch up. Fixing the “broken rug” and having the right policies, culture and resources to support female employees to progress their careers within the organisations are key to achieve their full potential.

LinkedIn’s Gender Insights Report highlighted that while the average number of jobs viewed by men and women in 2018 were almost the same, women were 16 percent less likely to apply for a job after viewing it. However, those who apply are 16 percent more likely to be hired. It turns out, that compared to their male peers, women are more likely to underestimate their abilities and performance. Due to this confidence gap, women often screen themselves out, as they feel they need to meet all of the job’s criteria, while men typically apply if they meet 60 percent of the requirements.

A culture of diversity, inclusion and belonging

All employees should have equal opportunities to grow and advance. Creating an organisational culture that is fair for all, with hiring and promoting diverse candidates will naturally lead to a more inclusive environment where women and unrepresented groups can feel a sense of belonging and are more likely to thrive.

Setting objective hiring and promotion processes with clear evaluation criteria can prevent unconscious bias and allow more women to move up in their career, as well as inspire others to step up. When companies have credible hiring and performance review processes in place, employees feel supported and driven to increased levels of performance. In combination with manager support and senior sponsorship, these processes can help to create a workplace that delivers equal and fair opportunities for all.

At Acumen, we pride ourselves in offering development that gives managers practical tools to help solve real life challenges. We offer an extensive menu of courses, workshops and coaching programmes, ranging from presentation skills through to customer service events and executive leadership development. For more information, please contact Simon at

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